Brain-based learning is a philosophy that uses neuroscience, psychology, and education to holistically support the learning process. Find out how to use it to enhance your child’s learning at school or home.
Being in education for more than 15 years, I have long learned to appreciate the idea of brain-based learning. It is simply a school of thought that encourages instructors to teach based upon the development and the cognitive needs of students.
Keeping in mind the diverse concept of brain-based learning, it may take a wide variety of forms depending upon the goal of the teacher and the needs of the classroom. Lessons may be designed to reduce stress or to eat healthy, both which are factors that affect learning. (edglossary.org, 2013)
As a parent, I have come to embrace this practice even more as I navigate the joys of parental instruction of my child.
Is it incumbent upon me to observe how she takes in information, respect it and appreciate it?
It certainly makes for a less stressful process.
We are living in an age of product and result. What’s the bottom line? Let’s get an outcome…quickly! Our educational system joined in decades ago with test obsessed curricular and feeling pressured to concretely measure what students know.
What about the process, however?
The Process of Brain-Based Learning
That is certainly the cornerstone of learning; the actual process. This process can only be attained if we go back to embrace the idea of understanding how the brain works and how individual children take in information.
In learning to fulfill the needs of our children’s brains, understanding our own modality of learning is important, because how we learn often affects how we teach.
Because I learn best via reading, discussion and taking notes, much of my earlier lessons in the classroom focused on this strategy. Written words have always made me comfortable and without realizing it, I formulated the majority of my lessons in such a way that was most convenient for me.
Once I became aware of this, I focused on discovering how my students’ brains worked and shaped the lessons accordingly. Their learning immediately became more enriched. Learning the way we best take in information is only an initial step, however. Appreciating the season in which your brain is ready to receive is also important.
When I think back to grade school, I often wonder why it took me longer to understand specific mathematical concepts and then perhaps a year later, they were so clear. While the type of instruction could be a factor, I believe much of it had to do with brain development.
The Brain “Gets It” When It Gets It
Most experts agree that growth and learning comes from both nurture and nature. While parents and teachers clearly must expose children to ideas and allow them to have various experiences, i.e. nurture, there are many skills such as crawling, walking and talking that they will do naturally as their brains develop, i.e. nature. (Purdue.edu, 2019).
This is a concept that I work diligently to apply to my own instructional and parental toolbox when it comes to brain-based learning. It’s not always easy because it’s more comfortable to believe that learning is simply linear: The information goes in and out comes the product or the result. That isn’t the case of course, for anyone. Nature, which includes our cognitive wiring, our emotions and personality, can actually drive the type of nurture that a child needs.
How to Apply Brain-Based Learning
So although it takes my daughter and I bit longer to complete nightly reading because while exercising her need for kinesthetics, she acts out each scene within the plot of the story, I allow it. Sometimes, she even dons costumes and renames the characters which adds on another 25 minutes but we get through the book and her brain is happy.
Let’s keep nurturing our children’s brains by exposing them to amazing things, giving them what they need and allowing it all to soak in.
Let’s celebrate their wins and losses and watch them thrive. The knowledge is there and when we listen, it spurts out daily.
And finally, let’s let ourselves off the hook. We set such amazing expectations of what we want our children to do and know, and what time and in what manner; and this can be a good thing. I just however, do not want to miss years of enjoying my child develop organically and witness the miraculous growth of her beautiful mind.
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